DREAM THEATER's JOHN PETRUCCI Says It Was 'Really Nostalgic' Recording New Music With MIKE PORTNOY Again

September 6, 2021

A little over a year ago, DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci released his second solo album, "Terminal Velocity", via Sound Mind Music/The Orchard. The follow-up to 2005's "Suspended Animation" featured guest musicians Mike Portnoy (SONS OF APOLLO, ex-DREAM THEATER) on drums and Dave LaRue (DIXIE DREGS) on bass. The effort marked the first time Petrucci and Portnoy had recorded together in over a decade, as well as their first time playing together since Portnoy departed DREAM THEATER.

In a new interview with Revolver, Petrucci said about his renewed working relationship with Portnoy (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Chemistry is everything. It's funny, too — with my solo album, I'd gone in, written all the music, recorded all the guitars, programmed drums, played bass. It was all done, and then I had to go in and get Dave LaRue to play bass on it and Mike to play drums on it. And when Mike started playing drums — I remember the first day he came into the studio and he just started playing to this music that I wrote, it just sounded like the two of us. It just was really nostalgic. Even though we didn't write it together, we weren't jamming together, we weren't even in the same room when I was writing it, but there's just something about that chemistry that creates this magical sound. And one of the things I thought was really awesome with the fans out there was when it came out, it just got such a positive reaction. People were just, like, 'I'm just so happy that you did this,' and the music sounds positive and happy. And this was, like, really all during the heart of the whole pandemic. So it was a very good, positive [experience]."

Last year, Petrucci told "Coffee With Ola!" that "it was really great" for him to have Mike play on the record. "I hadn't done anything musically with him since he left DREAM THEATER over 10 years ago," he said. "And it was really just fun, because it's different when you're in a band with somebody. Really, we grew up together — we met when we were 18. And you're in business together. It's different than when it's, like, fast forward, now it's, like, my friend is playing drums on my album. It was so easy going and so cool. He was able to come to my studio despite the pandemic situation on the East Coast in the U.S. It was safe for him to come to the studio — he doesn't live that far from me. And he spent a week, and we had fun. And he did a killer job.

"These songs take a lot of different skills, I think, as a drummer — some are uplifting and happy; some are metal; some take double-bass chops; some you've gotta do a shuffle; some are blues; some is Latin feel," Petrucci explained. "And it's just a testament to Mike's playing — he knows how to do all that stuff. And he came in, totally easy going, did it. We had fun. And I'm really happy that he did it."

Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than 35 years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He has since been replaced by Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).

This past March, Petrucci and Portnoy's instrumental progressive rock/metal project LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT released its third album, "LTE3", via InsideOut Music. The effort arrived 22 years after the release of 1999's "Liquid Tension Experiment 2".

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